It hasn’t gotten any better

The Dodgers did mount a mini-threat in the fourth, when Pierre and Abreu began the inning with back-to-back hits, but nothing came of it. Just a foul pop, a ground ball that advanced the runners and a called third strike to Gonzo, who is now hitting .233 w/RISP. Hendrickson was gone after five innings. They already took Tomko out of the rotation, so I’m not sure what they’re going to do with this guy, but it appears the Dodgers have gotten about all they’re going to get out of him. Cubs 4, Dodgers 0, top 7

Zambrano dialed in

This is as good as I have ever seen him. He has faced the minimum through three, with four Ks. Gonzo got him for a one-out single in the second, but that was quickly erased on Wilson Betemit’s GIDP. Aramis Ramirez and Mark DeRosa got Hendrickson for back-to-back homers in the second, first time the Cubs have done that this year. But Gonzo might have saved another run later in that inning. With Matt Murton on second and one out, Cesar Izturis hit a blooper to left that Gonzo couldn’t get to, but Gonzo faked having a bead on it, even sticking his glove up to catch it just before it landed about five feet in front of him. Murton was deked just long enough that he held up slightly between second and third, which prevented him from scoring, and Hendrickson then got out of the inning without further damage. But Henry Blanco just singled to drive in Murton, padding the Cubs’ lead. Cubs 3, Dodgers 0, top 4

Today’s lineup: Kent-less

Russell Martin is batting cleanup, and Tony Abreu is playing second base, where he played most of the time at Las Vegas. Probably has something to do with the fact Kent is 6 for 27, with 11 strikeouts, against Carlos Zambrano. Meanwhile, even though it’s a day game after a night game, Mike Lieberthal continues to gather dust.

SS Furcal — 12gm hitting streak and 25 hits in last 50 ABs
CF Pierre — 3-19 (.158) against Zambrano
1B Nomar — 20-47 with RISP
C Martin — hitting .422 with RISP
LF Gonzo — 4gm hit streak (6-14)
3B Betemit
RF Ethier
2B Abreu
LH Hendrickson — facing Cubs for first time in his career

Dodgers 9, Cubs 8

Easily the best game of the year. Dodgers came back with four in the bottom of the eighth on a shaky Cubs pen. Rafael Furcal drove in the tying run with his first hit of the night, running his hitting streak to 12 games, and Juan Pierre, choosing not to try to bunt for a hit for just the second time in five at-bats tonight, drove in the winner with a sac fly. Dodgers began the inning with three straight hits off Bob Howry, then Olmedo Saenz singled in the first run off Will Ohman (Oh man, they brough HIM in? Bad joke, sorry). The rest of the damage was done against Angel Guzman, who immediately threw a wild pitch and let three inherited runners score. The loss went to Ohman (Oh man, HE took the loss? Sorry, couldn’t resist). Anyway, the Dodgers go to 28-20 on the year and stay one game ahead of the Padres (do they EVER lose?) . Good night, everyone

Six runs and counting

The Dodgers have suffered their biggest blown lead (five runs) of the season. Cubs got one in the sixth. So far in the seventh, they have six more. Grady made the decision in the bottom of the sixth to pinch hit for Lowe, who had thrown just 83 pitches and limited the Cubs to four hits. But in the seventh, Yhency Brazoban couldn’t get anybody out, and neither could Jonathan Broxton, who faced five batters and gave up five hits but did manage to pick Derrek Lee off second base. Five batters and one pitching change later, the Dodgers still haven’t managed to get that last out. This was a game they needed to win with Carlos Zambrano waiting to face them tomorrow. Cubs 7, Dodgers 5, (still) top 7

Tonight’s lineup: Abreu starts again … and Valdez outrighted

Sorry no bloggy yesterday. I needed a day away from anything baseball-related. But now, I am completely refreshed and ready for action — even though Billy Witz is covering the game for us tonight. But anyway, Wilson Valdez cleared waivers and was outrighted to Las Vegas — probably a big blow to him, but a big coup for the team because they get to keep him in the organizatio, and they really like this guy. Here’s tonight’s lineup for this series opener against the Cubbies.

SS Furcal — 11gm hit streak
CF Pierre
1B Nomar
2B Kent
C Martin
LF Gonzo
3B Abreu
RF Ethier
RH Lowe — 200th career start

Also, a hearty congrats to the legendary Stu Nahan, who got his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today. Ran into Stu getting on the elevator at Angel Stadium last weekend, and it was great to hear that he is healthy and feeling good. I’ll never forget one night during the 2004 season, when he was still traveling with the Dodgers, and Gary Miereanu and Tom Boman and I sat up until, like, 4 in the morning in the bar at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta (the bar had long since closed) listening to Stu tell stories. This guy is one of the greatest storytellers who ever lived, and I have seldom laughed so hard in my life. Good times.

Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree

Tony Orlando is here. He was sitting in Frank McCourt’s box for a few innings, and they showed him on the big board, arm in arm with Tommy Lasorda. The Dodgers didn’t knock three times on the ceiling, but they did score four times in the first. Three of those runs came on a bases-clearing double by Russell Martin, and Gonzo picked Martin up with a single to left. Chris Capuano was lifted after four innings. Penny is sailing along, working on a three hit shutout — with an assist from that notorious low wall down in the leftfield corner. Rickie Weeks’ two-out double in the fifth bounced into the front row down there, forcing Corey Hart to hold at third when he might have scored from first. Tony Gwynn then popped up to end the inning, stranding both runners. Dodgers 4, Brewers 0, bottom 5

Brazoban up, Tsao to DL — and Furcal back in the leadoff spot

Chin-hui Tsao went on the 15-day DL today with a right shoulder strain that I’m guessing is related to the rotator cuff surgery that caused him to miss almost all of the past two seasons. To fill his roster spot, the club recalled Yhency Brazoban from Triple-A Las Vegas. Meanwhile, after Juan Pierre went 0 for 8 in two games batting leadoff, Grady has returned Rafael Furcal back to the top spot.

SS Furcal — 6-13, 1 HR vs. Chris Capuano
CF Pierre — 7-12 vs. Capuano
1B Nomar
2B Kent
C Martin — 6-9 vs. Capuano
LF Gonzo
3B LaRoche
RF Ethier
RH Penny